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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Men’s basketball: Aggies’ strength shows in win-streak

UC Davis has hit a hot streak.

After traveling to Sacramento State for a win on the road earlier in the week, UC Davis came back home Saturday and put up another victory against Seattle.

Looking at the young season, coach Gary Stewart couldn’t be more pleased with his team’s effort.

“I go back to the first weekend – we didn’t have enough time to make adjustments because we went back-to-back-to-back,” Stewart said. “When we got in the gym, to the guys’ credit, they have really done a good job at addressing some of the things that were of major concern to the coaching staff.”

With the two wins, the Aggies are close to evening out their record, improving to 3-4 on the season.

Tuesday – UC Davis 61, Sacramento State 54

Stewart has faith in his team’s defense.

“This is the best defensive club that we’ve had since I’ve been here, this early in the season,” he said. “We have been playing pretty good defense for periods of time. We were able to sustain it longer tonight than we have been in previous contests.”

Solid defense was the key in Tuesday’s win over rival Sac State.

The Aggies held the Hornets to just 33 percent shooting overall and 25 percent shooting from three-point range.

Additionally, UC Davis spread the ball around on offense.

The Aggies jumped ahead with a 12-3 run early in the first frame, with six points coming from Joe Harden.

Sac State took a 26-25 advantage into the break, gaining its first and only lead of the contest.

The Aggies put out the Hornets’ fire in the second period, regaining as much as an 11-point lead, en route to the 61-54 win.

Sophomore guard Ryan Sypkens was UC Davis’ leading scorer, coming off the bench for 16.

?”[Sypkens] is a talented kid,” Stewart said. “He’s a guy who consistently makes shots in practice. It was good to see him get his confidence and get going.”

Saturday – UC Davis 80, Seattle 58

This game belonged to the Aggies.

UC Davis jumped out to a 10-2 lead early in the opening frame and never looked back, running away with the 80-58 home victory.

With 16 points, including a 10-for-10 effort from the foul line, Harden passed the 1000-point mark in his three-season career as an Aggie.

“From a coaching standpoint, [Harden] is a dream come true,” Stewart said. “There are some guys that are skilled and some guys that are hard-hat warriors – he has the hard hat and the toughness and he brings that every day, but he’s also got the skill set.”

Junior guard Eddie Miller had a career-high 20 points to lead the Aggies.

Despite full court pressure from a desperate Seattle defense, the UC Davis lead never dipped below double-digits in the second half.

Senior Mark Payne also had a strong outing, scoring 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

What Stewart noticed most after the victory is his team’s overall improvement.

“I think what you’re seeing is a team that’s getting better and better,” Stewart said.

The Aggies are next in action on Wednesday on the road against California at 7:30 p.m.

GRACE SPRAGUE can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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